Broken Bud

The LOUIS H. RAETH gravestone, Green Hill Cemetery, Bedford, Indiana

Detail of the top of the LOUIS H. RAETH gravestone

LOUIS H. RAETH                                                                                                                          son of                                                                                                                                            JOHN & SARALDA                                                                                                       RAETH                                                                                                                                        BORN                                                                                                                                               Dec. 30, 1851                                                                                                                                DIED                                                                                                                                               May 21, 1853

As I walk through cemeteries and read the text on the gravestones, the hardest for me are the gravestones of the children.  It always seems unfair to me that these tiny children did not have a chance to fulfill their promise.  It is a reminder of how fragile life is, especially young life.  Often you can see fairly quickly in cemeteries how high infant mortality rates were in frontier America.  There is an old saw that it wasn’t tough to live to 70, the major feat was to live past five. 

Cemeteries have many symbols that represent children–shoes, seedpods, cribs, cherubs–but one of the most common is the hanging bud.  The broken bud represents the flower that did not bloom into full blossom, the life that was cut short before it had a chance to grow to adulthood.  What is unusal about this gravestone is the hanging bud is severed by an arrow, what looks to be an overt action from Heaven.

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